Issues of housing, employment, street-drinking and social exclusion were on the agenda at a special meeting in Boston last week.
Representatives from consulates of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia met with authority leaders in the area to discuss matters of mutual concern.
The summit, hosted by Boston Borough Council and chaired by council leader Coun Peter Bedford, was also attended by Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman, Lincolnshire’s Chief Constable Neil Rhodes, Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick and representatives from Boston Borough and South Holland District Councils.
The group agreed a commitment to continue to work together to meet the challenges of population change.
A council spokesman said: “There was discussion about best ways for residents from the Eastern European communities to report problems with rogue landlords, rogue employers and below-standard accommodation.
“Boston Borough Council continues to put pressure on owners of unfit accommodation and has had success in persuading landlords to make improvements to their properties.
“Some residents were reluctant to always go direct to the appropriate authorities to complain and the Chief Con said a ‘third way’ for issues to be reported needed to be explored.”
Concerns were raised about pressures on accommodation, increased demand in the private rented sector and rising rents in a low-wage economy.
It was suggested that most employers paid a fair wage but that some migrant workers received low wages because of ‘deductions’ made by gangmaster, middle-men.
There was concern some labour providers maintained a growing bank of staff beyond the need for the available work. Problems with street drinking and associated issues were discussed.
The spokesman added: “It was felt that part of the problem revolved around young men sharing rented property where all rooms were taken by individuals, so there was no central communal area indoors. Socialising moved outdoors.
“This could be addressed by improved social inclusion and community cohesion and integration in both directions. The meeting heard that there were Eastern European clubs and organisations which would welcome interest from native Bostonians, such as a Polish karate club and a Latvian dance group. Trust needed to be developed and earned on all sides.”
All three consulate representatives said they found drinking in the street socially and culturally unacceptable.
It was reported that the influx from Latvia had slowed with fewer arriving in search of work and most now joining family members already resident here. Appreciation was expressed for the positive contribution made by Boston’s new communities.
Inquiries are to be made into the availability of EU funding to further promote their initiatives.